Yesterday Lu turned two months old. Do know what present healthy babies get on such a day? They get their first big dose of vaccinations. Not exactly a pizza party, but beats the heck out of polio.
The shots made her scream like crazy. We held her as she shook and wailed, and she eventually reduced herself to whimpering as she lost her energy for crying. It’s hard to watch, as they’re so scared and confused and don’t know that the pain is behind them, nor how much pain they’ve avoided in the future. But in the time it took to print our vaccination certificate and take the elevator down to our car, she was fast asleep and protected from the eradicated scourges of generations past.
And the more I think about it, that’s the part that really gets me about the anti-vaccination movement. It’s not just that we disagree on the facts (vaccinations don’t cause autism), it’s that we fundamentally disagree about what it means to be human. Because what is the human condition if not striving for a better world for our children in the face of our own mortality?
For me, nothing represents this better than the vaccine, which I’d argue is mankind’s greatest accomplishment. Consider that over the course of 10,000 years, smallpox killed more people than anything else in history. And while it killed between 300–500 million in the 20th Century, the disease has been eradicated and relegated to a freezer thanks to the magic of vaccination. Science FTW.
While I swell with pride when I think of the American flag planted on the moon, it’s not as much as when I see the world’s tiniest Band-Aid.